Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Remaking Memory or Getting it Right

At the Michigan War Studies Review Tom Bruscino has a great article, "Remaking Memory or Getting It Right? Saving Private Ryan and the World War II Generation." I am teaching a US history through film class for our Maymester this year that will cover the US since 1945 but I may well start with Saving Private Ryan (and Tom's essay) before moving on to The Best Years of Our Lives (one of my favorite movies of all time) and the twin pillars of the Cold War and the Civil Rights Movement that so defined American life in the generation and more after World War II.

I suspect that Tom likes Saving Private Ryan more than I do, but I think he does a really good job of placing the movie within the larger filmography of which it is a part and in putting forward a useful argument about the ways in which memory and history interact and how we think of World War II as a result.

3 comments:

jen said...

The opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan, which show row after row of headstones at the American Normandy Cemetery, really make the viewer realize the high price of war. Also, I thought the flasback from there to the chaotic landings at Omaha Beach was a good transitional technique. What a lot of people don't know is that the U.S. Army's AGRC performed the difficult task of grading the cemetery and making reinterments.

http://benning7.wordpress.com/2009/06/10/constructing-the-normandy-cemetery/

Jim said...

They might enjoy comparing a good film about modern warfare, HURT LOCKER.

dcat said...

Jim --
I'm sure Tom is familiar with Hurt Locker (it did, after all, win the Best Picture Oscar!), but his essay was on WWII movies. I liked Hurt Locker, thought that it's victory was great for Bigelow and was deserved, but it also pointed to me that it was a relatively weak year in movies. I still preferred Up!

dcat